It is indeed 2024. The exact date is Monday January 15, 2024, the day where in the United States, we celebrate the birth and life of Dr. Martin Luther King. This will not be a post about MLK, rather, I just wanted to share that because I believe it has been exactly a year since I last posted on my website. I have been meaning to post before, I promise, just the busy year has kept me from doing so. Now that it is 2024 though and a new year since I last posted, I am trying to build on things I started last year, and start some new things.
A lot can happen in a year. If I didn’t know that before, last year was a prime example. This time last year, I had recently graduated from my trade school and was looking for work. I graduated from this trade school as a certified Assistive Technology Instructor on October 12, 2022. Armed with my certificate, I was now certified to teach blind and visually impaired individuals how to use screen readers like JAWS and NVDA, screen magnification software like ZoomText, and screen reading and screen magnification software like Fusion. I am also certified to teach the big four Microsoft Office products like Word, Outlook, Excel, and PowerPoint. Also, although not certified in these things, I can teach iOS products like the iPhone and iPad, and learning how to use the screen reader VoiceOver on a Mac computer.
About an hour before I graduated, I had also found out that I had passed all of the tests to contract out my ATI skills with students in the state of North Carolina, and my instructor at the school had told me about a job that they were interested in me teaching once I studied for and passed the Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies (CPACC) exam. This is the first certification exam with the International Association of Accessibility Professionals (IAAP.) So, I immediately began studying for that the week after graduation. It really felt like things would happen fairly fast, which would make me glad because after all of my training, now I can start putting the many skills I had learned to some use. This would also make my wife happy, since I hadn’t worked in over two years while I was in school.
But work for the first three or four months after graduation was, well, nonexistent. I was studying for CPACC and had become a member of the International Association of Accessibility Professionals, the largest international network that exists for promoting and ensuring accessibility for people with all disabilities. So, I was able to keep up with what was going on with that crowd a bit. I was also making study guides and learning what I could about this assistive technology that I had just been certified to teach, in order to stay relevant and current in a constantly changing world of technology. But the class at the school had not started yet and I had no students in NC, which meant that for about three months, I was an assistive technology instructor with no students to instruct. “When are you going to get some students,” my wife would ask me. The only thing I could tell her was “I don’t know,” which I think made her even more anxious. All I could do was keep trying.
I have heard a lot of business owners say that the first customer is always the hardest to get. But once you get that first one, they come in bunches. Around time for the NFL playoffs last year, I began getting my first students. I spoke with my first NC student at the end of January, 2023, and within weeks, I had my second and third student. I had also picked up a private student, so this was a good start for the ATI contracting business I was attempting to build. Great!
Then in March, I got very sick after I underwent a lumbar puncture, also known as a spinal tap. More on that later. However, as a result of this spinal tap, I spent five days in the hospital and a fever ensued which ended up lasting about three weeks. My inflammation levels rose to extravagant heights, and in April, actually early Monday morning after Easter Sunday, I somehow developed a blood clot in my lungs, which put me back in the hospital for a couple of days. During the first time I was in the hospital, they started teaching the class that I was supposed to teach at the school but because I was sick, other people had to do my job until I got well enough to sit at my computer for more than a couple of hours. March and April were absolute craziness as I struggled to build my business and at the same time, shake the worst sickness that I had ever experienced in my adult life.
Soon after the blood clot, I was able to recover enough to travel some with my wife for her job. We went to the Bay Area, Seattle, and Chicago for the ACB Convention, all places I had never been. I was also getting more students in NC and I went from one student at the school, to two in July, to three in August, to four in October, and I had as many as five students in November at the Arkansas institution in addition to no less than two in North Carolina. I took the CPACC exam at the end of April and I found out at the beginning of June that I had passed the exam making me CPACC certified. This was a huge deal! Not only had I left my safe but dead-end job back in 2020, but in three years, I had managed to find something else I could do, another way that I could be a productive member of society than putting bags and things together for the military. I had managed to start my own business, am now working from home, and am using my computer to make some money and help people. Very fulfilling. And, no more arguments with my wife during our biweekly budget sessions about me not having any money to contribute.
The holidays came and went. I did have a nice long break though, lasting about three weeks. Definitely one of the longest breaks I have had since I started working twenty years ago. I was able to get some much-needed rest and relaxation, spend time with friends and family, and listen to a ton of football games. Me and the MRS. had a quiet New Year’s Eve night at home and I stayed up until 11:59:59 seconds, where I watched 2023 ease away and be replaced by a brand-new year, 2024. As I listened to folks in my neighborhood pop off fireworks, I said to myself “Thank you God for letting me see another one.”
Now, it is MLK Day and the NFL playoffs again, and since starting my business, there are some other things I want to do this year. I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions, and I won’t start now. I do believe however, that I must grow and expand things in a new year, and not get stuck doing the exact same thing. So, this to me means growing my business with assistive technology. This to me means more journaling. This to me means more reading, and because I have been so busy recovering from, I don’t know what, and building my business, I haven’t done any writing in a long time. So, this means more writing and work on this website that I have created and building and flexing my creative muscles. I won’t make any bold predictions as to how these plans will go but I will do what I can to make sure I do something everyday to execute these plans to the best of my ability. One thing I am sure of, consistency is indeed the name of the game. If I do something toward my plans on a regular if not daily basis, something is bound to come from this consistency as a result. So, that is what I'm going for in 2024. Consistency!